Thursday, July 11, 2013

Hiking in Borneo

One of my favourite highlights from travelling our beautiful planet has been hiking through the tropical green jungles of Mulu National Park in Borneo. Here, clear flowing rivers wind through the dense forests like dancing snakes.

Travel throughout the river systems is usually by longboats that seem to fly noisily through the water, past makeshift houses in scattered villages inhabited by the nomadic Sarawakian tribes of the Penan people.

The Penan children are beautiful, with sweet smiles, ebony hair and olive skin. Passing by I smiled and was greeted with the occasional wave as young girls splashed about in the water, seemingly oblivious to the hot, thick jungle air.

Huge white limestone mountains emerge from the forest canopy with impressive jagged cliff faces. The Clearwater Cave and Cave of the Winds may be explored in the Gunung Api section of the Melinau limestone. During our hike we walked through the impressive Kings Chamber, identified by giant honeycomb columns and stalagmites.

Whilst inside the Cave of the Winds, we noticed the temperature of the humid jungle air plummet as cool wind flowed through the cave along the same route of an ancient river that formed the cave many thousands of years earlier.

To walk into a dark, damp cave can be a daunting experience, I recall the sound of dripping water and the faint rushing sounds of an underwater river echoing along the stone walls. Suddenly I was aware of a tiny galaxy of scattered stars above me and for the first time in my life I could clearly make out the insect lures of glow worm threads that dangled like silk from the cave ceiling.

This feeling of awe struck me again and again as I ventured throughout the cave and I couldn't believe my eyes when I witnessed the wondrous sight of three million naked bats streaming from the mouth of Deer Cave like moving ribbons drifting towards the sunset. The ribbons looked like giant serpents and sounded like swarms of buzzing wasps as birds of prey circled nearby to capture any unfortunate strays.

At the entrance of Deer Cave we saw the side profile of 'The Boss', aka U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. From the perfect angle, the silhouette of Abe's pointy nose and iconic chin can be made out against the mouth of the cave entrance.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Hiking in Borneo Part I